This project represents the first very real steps in decarbonising our domestic aviation industry. The consortium is set to revolutionise the future of UK regional air travel with zero-emission Hydrogen-Electric and automated planes paired with advanced ground infrastructure.
The initial focus will be on the needs of remote Scottish island communities which often rely on underdeveloped subsidised air travel between islands. The longer-term view is to bring commercial services to existing underutilised low volume airfields - creating a new national network of zero carbon air services. The consortium is looking to construct and operate what would be the world’s first zero emission 19-seater commercial aircraft route, including dedicated green hydrogen infrastructure, with a first targeted entry into service date of 2025.
Weston Williamson + Partners is part of a 10 strong consortium and the only independent architecture studio to be a named consortium member as part of the Future Flight Challenge Fund, which awards grants from the UK Research and Innovation programme as part of the Government’s modern industrial strategy.
The project is taking a systems approach looking at every facet of delivering this paradigm shift in air travel. The consortium is led by autonomous flight specialist Blue Bear and includes hydrogen and technology specialists ZeroAvia, Protium, Inmarsat and Fleetondemand, Weston Williamson + Partners as architects, the Transport Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University, airline Loganair, airport operator Highlands and Islands Airports Limited and British aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman.
As a signatory of the Architects Declare movement, we feel it is time for a more nuanced conversation around aviation. As architects, Project HEART represents a unique opportunity for our studio to influence thinking beyond airports and terminal buildings themselves and to work with our consortium partners to reimagine domestic air travel as an environmentally and economically sustainable transport mode. We are hugely excited to be part of what could lead to the world’s first commercial hydrogen powered air service and our belief in the importance of this project is demonstrated by our match-funding of the portion of grant we are receiving.
The UK Government’s confidence in our consortium’s approach comes ahead of consultation on the Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy later this year, set out as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution to build back greener.